Relationships between two people are often highly intricate. They require mutual effort and understanding – not just of each other, but of your own selves equally.
It may be that you’re taking your partner for granted if…
You spend more time processing conflict than actually enjoying each others company and having fun. Don’t allow the relationship to become defined by conflict resolution and apologies. You can feel frustrated by each others limitations while also holding on to the parts you love. Let each other be imperfect humans. Learning how to put conflict down and repair is the most important thing you can do for your relationship.
You are constantly telling your partner to change. If you can’t find a way to love your partner as they are, regularly criticize and/or demand that they change, you may actually want a different partner. Work towards accepting them as they are. If you can’t, be honest with yourself and end it.
You expect your partner to take care of and be responsible for your overall wellbeing. We take care of ourselves first and get the added bonus of a built-in support buddy. That doesn’t mean they’re responsible for picking up the pieces all the time. Don’t parentify your partner.
You receive while rarely giving back. Many relationships are imbalanced in terms of the giving and receiving of love, support, and caretaking. Cultivate a relationship where there is consistent mutuality.
You don’t express your love daily. Physical and verbal affection are important components of the communication that says, “I love you and you are special to me.”
You don’t take time for honest and open reflections about the relationship. Regular reflection about your relationship is important. Renegotiate the terms, talk about the positive/neg/in between moments, and plan for the future. Co-author your relationship on an ongoing basis.
You don’t provide regular positive feedback, reinforcement, and affirmations. Find something you like about your partner and tell them! It doesn’t have to be momentous, it can be something simple like making a decision about dinner.
You don’t do special things for each other or celebrate anything. You don’t need an occasion or holiday to celebrate something. Celebrate each other, plan special weekend adventures, and get creative with the joy you cultivate together. Do something special for one another; go to the store and get their favourite chocolate as a nice surprise, make them coffee in the morning and bring it to their bedside once and a while, find something they like and surprise them. Surprises don’t have to be constant (or they wouldn’t be surprising) or exhausting, just an occasional extra effort to let your partner know that you prioritize their happiness as much as you’d want in return.
You never talk about sex. If you’re in a relationship structured around sexual exclusivity, aren’t having sex, and don’t talk about it – you can be sure you’re taking it for granted! Talk immediately, even if the agreement is to not have sex. It’s still an important part of an adult romantic relationship.
Some quick and simple fixes you can try to show your partner that they are appreciated by you:
Get creative. Get creative. GET CREATIVE.
Simple things like… Hide cute messages in places for them to find. Say things like “You’re hot.” “I love you to the moon and back.” BE CHEESE.
Get their favourite snacks, flowers, and/or whatever items that make them smile.
ALWAYS plan special nights/days out in the world. Having shared experiences is connective glue.
Plan future things. This builds excitement re the future – and communicates – I can’t wait to do these things with you in the future.
Figure out how your partner likes to be touched, caressed, and massaged, and have a massage night. Trade massages.
Cook their favourite meal. Light candles. Set a gorj table.
Goodnight and good morning kisses always.
Snuggle and hold each other. Doesn’t have to be for hours but even a few seconds will do. Hug for 30 seconds.
Compliment – all the time. Find something. Anything will do.
Be curious about their history/internal world. What was this like? What did you think of that? What did you want instead? Tell me everything.
Consciously trying simple techniques and messages like this are super easy to integrate and should help show your partner that you DON’T take them for granted. If the relationship is right and they return the gesture, you should feel that too.